3LLM Instead of 3LOL

Every law student knows about 3LOL. The year where you are supposed to be pining for your work life and bumming around in a couple of seminars to finish up your law school career, enjoying freedom and not having to take Contracts or do tech checks for journal… But most law students don’t know that there’s an alternative to 3LOL- 3LLM.

BU Law offers the amazing IMG_0266opportunity to obtain a JD/LLM dual degree in the regular three-year span of law school. The Tax LLM at BU is the most popular of these programs, but there are little-known options beyond tax! BU offers five international LLM programs: a JD/LLM in Asian Legal Studies with the National University of Singapore, a JD/LLM in Chinese Law with Tsinghua University in Beijing, a JD/LLM in Finance with the Institute for Law and Finance in Frankfurt, a JD/LLM in International & European Business Law with Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, and my program, a JD/LLM in European Law with Panthéon-Assas Paris II in Paris. Few, if any, students take the opportunity to participate in these programs, and after one month here in Paris, I’m left scratching my head as to why not.

Setting yourself up for 3LLM is not as difficult as you would think. Sure, it takes some planning and forethought, and I’d be lying if I said my 2L wasn’t torture in part because of my LLM preparations, but it’s doable. It really is. I’ve done it, and now I’m going to make it easy for you to do too.

There are five main things you need to get out of the way during 2L to jet off to Paris or Madrid for 3L:

(1) meet your Professional Skills requirement. This can be any class that fulfills Pro Skills, but make sure you take one during 2L.

(2) meet your Professional Responsibility requirement. Whether this is through a clinic, a seminar, or a class, make sure you will be fulfilling Professional Responsibility during 2L.

(3) take the MPRE. You’re already taking Professional Responsibility, and this little thorn of an exam requires minimal studying (I recommend about 10 hours if you’ve taken a PR class). It is now hosted at BU, so sign up early, get your seat, and dedicate one solid day to getting this inevitable headache out of the way.

(4) cert a paper. BU requires all students to fulfill an upper level writing requirement, informally called cert. You can often cert a seminar paper if you talk to your professor about it at the beginning of the course, and most people cert their journal notes, so think ahead about what you are going to use to fulfill cert and don’t leave it until midway through second semester of 2L, or you will end up having to write a paper specifically for cert.

(5) take business fundamentals. If you didn’t do this summer of 1L, make sure you take it and pass before you depart for your LLM program. Trust me, you will not have the time or brain power to layer US corporate practice principles on top of the new legal system you are learning.

Other helpful tips- pay attention to your Pass/Fail credits. 3LLM involves basically an entire year of using grades from your masters’ classes to get your master’s, and classroom hours from your master’s to appease the ABA. BU Law only allows you to take a certain number of classes Pass/Fail, so suck it up and take Evidence for a grade. You’ll thank yourself when you are sipping wine and snacking on cheese in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Also, consider filling your 2L schedule with courses that will give you the best possible base in US law. It might mean you take 2-3 doctrinal courses per semester while your friends are only taking 1-2, but you will feel better during 3LLM knowing you’ve taken all the US law courses you think you’ll need in life. In conjunction with the Pass/Fail requirement, this might mean realizing you can’t take any GPA padders, but the tradeoff is going to be that you walk across the stage on graduation day with all of your classmates with a second degree in your hand. I made the conscious decision to fill my 2L schedule with classes I knew I would benefit from in terms of content instead of trying to protect my GPA, and so far, the LLM on my resume has been far more interesting and impressive to other professionals than my GPA has ever been. My GPA really has not even been a topic of conversation, and if it ever comes up, I will point to the 5 doctrinal classes, journal, 2 moot courts, and 3 experiential learning classes I took during 2L in addition to the required courses to show a dedication to my craft.

3LLM is not 3LOL. This is both a good and a bad thing.

3LLM isn’t all baguettes, croissants, and shopping for perfume. It is a LOT of work. My LLM is in European Union law, so not only am I taking a packed schedule of twelve courses for the LLM, but I am trying to get a crash course in civil law systems, learn 1200 years of European legal history, and make up for a lifetime of not being acquainted with European governance and the structure of the EU in a few short weeks. Classes are long and grueling, even though the classes are in English, there are plenty of language barriers, and you will die a little inside when you see the hectic staggered schedule (classes are not done on a semester basis, they are held based on the professor’s schedule. Your professors are amazing and they come from all over Europe, but it does mean that full courses start and finish sporadically, the schedule changes consistently, and sometimes you will have 8 classroom hours of EU Competition Law in a 24 hour span. For context, come the first week of November, I will be juggling different eight courses at once). Oh, and I said 13 classes in the title, didn’t I? That’s right, you will take French language class 3-4 days per week to supplement your master’s program because you’re in Paris and by all means you should get conversational in French while you’re here (plus it’s a 3 point cushion towards your master’s). It’s all exhausting. No rest for the weary.

But… you’re learning an entirely new legal system, one that is a vital part of the world economy. You’re meeting people from all different nations, and absorbing their unique legal expertise. And you’re going to return to the US with impressive knowledge, skills, and experiences that you haven’t encountered in any other attorneys in the US so far (that is, if you ever leave).

It might not be 3LOL, but 3LLM is worth every hectic, stressful, and pastry coma-inducing second.

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